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Defeating terrorism by addressing its root causes

MANHATTAN: Pakistan has called for countering terrorism by addressing its underlying root causes at a U.N. meeting aimed at advancing the rights and needs of people whose lives have been upended by the scourge.

“Pakistan has been principle victim of terrorism,” Ambassador Munir Akram, permanent representative of Pakistan to the UN, said at a Thursday’s session on “Terrorist attacks based on xenophobia, racism, and other forms of intolerance, or in the name of religion of belief”, which was part of the first UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism.

“We have lost more than 80,000 precious lives and suffered over $120 billion in economic losses,” he said, adding no country has sacrificed more than Pakistan for achieving peace.

“The ‘core’ of the international terrorist groups – Al-Qaeda and ISIS have been decimated, in case of Al-Qaeda largely due to Pakistan’s contribution, the Pakistani envoy added.

Pointing out that the threat from terrorism continues – and it has spread geographically, he called for adopting appropriate strategies to eliminate the terrorist threats.

In this regard, Ambassador Akram observed that “we have not addressed the root causes of terrorism – conflicts, oppression, foreign occupation and injustice.

“There is a need to have a comprehensive approach towards the issue of terrorism that takes into account all factors in the global counter terrorism strategy (GCTS) architecture.”

He also stressed the need to distinguish between terrorism and legal struggles for freedom and self-determination, saying in situations of foreign occupation, it is the oppressor who defines the nature of the struggle.

“In occupied Jammu & Kashmir, the occupying forces has initiated a vicious campaign of state terrorism to prevent the Kashmir people from exercising their recognized right to self-determination,” the Pakistani envoy told the gathering.

State-sponsored terrorism against adversaries also remains to be effectively addressed, he said, adding that Pakistan continues to suffer from cross-border terrorism “sponsored and financed by the one South Asian nation which has fomented terrorism in all its neighbouring countries.”

Ambassador Akram also called for addressing the new forms of terrorism, including violent acts by white supremacist; far right extreme right wing, violent nationalist, xenophobic, Islamophobic, anti-Muslim and Hindutva groups and ideologies in various parts of the world.

He also underscored the need for countering disinformation campaigns aimed at spreading hate speech, conspiracy theories and other such harmful content by terrorist groups, individuals and entities, including on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and similar internet providers.

The first UN Global Congress of Victims of Terrorism has been convened to address key issues that include protection, remembrance and recognition, and access to justice, as well as support and assistance.

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M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.